Treating Retained Testicals in Cats (Cryptorchidism)
Goals of Treating Cryptorchidism in Cats
The goals of treating feline cryptorchidism are to find and remove the testicle (or testicles) that haven’t descended normally, prevent or reduce the risk of testicular torsion and cancer, neuter the animal so that he can’t produce offspring with the same disorder and remove any source of testosterone that is causing undesirable male reproductive behaviors. The therapeutic goals for cryptorchid cats are best accomplished by castration and removal of both testicles, whether they are retained or in their proper anatomical location.
Undescended testicles can be difficult to locate. Abdominal palpation, radiographs (X-rays) and transabdominal ultrasound can help the veterinarian find retained testes, although sometimes exploratory surgery is necessary. Removing undescended testicles usually is more expensive than a normal castration procedure, because it almost always involves surgical entry through the abdomen. In rare cases, retained testicles can be manually massaged down into the scrotum, making it easier and less costly to remove them. A procedure that surgically relocates a retained testis into the scrotum – called orchiopexy – is not considered ethical among veterinary professionals and reputable breeders. Artificially relocated testicles carry the same increased risk of becoming cancerous as do testicles that remain undescended. Unless both testes are removed surgically, chryptorchid cats will develop typical male behaviors, such as aggression, the tendency to escape or wander, and spraying of urine to mark their territory. Once both testicles are removed, these behaviors almost always stop.
There is anecdotal evidence that certain medical “therapies,” such as hormone injections, may stimulate descent of retained testicles in animals under 4 months of age, although this has not been proven. The ethics of such techniques are highly questionable given the genetic cause of cryptorchidism. Most responsible breeders agree that cryptorchid cats should not be candidates for breeding.
Prognosis for Cryptorchid Cats
Cats with one or two retained testicles have a much greater risk of developing testicular cancer than do cats whose testicles both descend normally. Testicular cancer occurs in roughly 50 percent of undescended testicles, which is a ten-fold increase over the chance of cancer occurring in non-retained testes. Cryptorchid cats also have an increased chance of developing testicular infections and torsion. Surgical correction of cryptorchidism should involve removal of both testicles, regardless of whether they are located in the scrotum, inguinal canal or abdomen. With this treatment and appropriate post-operative supportive care, the prognosis for affected cats is excellent.
Cryptorchidism is a condition where one or both of a male cat’s testicles don’t descend normally from the abdomen into the scrotum. This isn’t a particularly common problem in domestic cats, although it does tend to plague Persians. In most cases, cryptorchidism in cats is unilateral, which means that one testicle descends properly but the other doesn’t. In rare cases, both testicles remain in the abdominal cavity.